Being a student athlete is hard, often having to find balance between athletics and school. Photo: Pexels

OP-ED: Struggles of Balancing Academics & Sports for College Athletes

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Op-Eds detail the views of their writers and are not representative of the stance of the paper. Publication of Op-Eds is not tantamount to an endorsement of their content.

I can’t remember the last time I had a decent breakfast before practice.

I wake up before the sun most days, at 5 a.m. I don’t eat breakfast as I have 7 a.m. practice. Every runner knows you should never run on a full stomach unless you want to be throwing up on the side of the track.

I do two sports: cross-country and both indoor and outdoor track and field. To help map out a time frame for each season, cross country runs from August to November, while indoor and outdoor track and field runs from December to May.

That’s 10 months out of 12 in a year, I’m dedicated to running.

Ten months out of the year I wake up at 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. to train. This can be extremely tiring both physically and mentally. Practice isn’t the only time I give to sports. Outside of practice I spend a lot of time at the trainer’s room receiving treatment for the endless injuries I receive from constantly running. This can be draining physically and mentally, as it’s hard to run when your body is breaking down.

On top of the four to five hours I spend on sports, I’m giving more or equal amount to my schoolwork. A key part of being a student-athlete is being a student too. It’s in the name. Sometimes you get so caught up in your sports and all the excitement and demand you let your schoolwork slip away from you.

In the Fall semester of 2023, I had midterms at the same time as cross-country’s East Coast Conference Championships, the conference championship. ECC’s for a QC athlete is the defining point of your season. All season your work was to get yourself to ECC’s, its importance to QC athletes is an understatement. It’s where you prove yourself as an athlete to other athletes and schools — the ultimate competition.

It was an immense amount of pressure having assignments worth so much of my grades due at the same time my athleticism was being put to the highest test. I nearly cracked under that pressure. All semester I had heavily neglected one of my classes and it progressively got worse.

I nearly failed that class was it not for pulling away from sports after ECC’s to focus on my schoolwork. The season was over, and the next meet wasn’t till December. I had time to focus on school. I struggled to manage my time in school and sports as both are so demanding.

When the most demanding moments, both academically and in sports, overlap, you find yourself having to choose. I chose athletics initially and it paid off for my sports, my performance as an athlete was at an all-time high. However, my performance as a student was at an all-time low, and it took a lot of long nights at the library to improve my grades.

I never want to let my schoolwork get away from me again. This semester I find myself focusing a lot more on my schoolwork. It’s not easy, and finding a balance is the hardest part, and I still have yet to perfect this.

I spoke to two of my teammates from the track and field team to get a different perspective on the struggles of being a student athlete, whilst still doing the same sport.

I spoke with sophomore and biology major Ashley Rodriguez about the expectations set upon athletes in college and how “as an athlete people expect you to be able to do it all,” when that expectation to “do it all” is far too unrealistic for the average college student let alone a student athlete.

Ashley Rodriguez added, to do sports, “You need good time management, which is something I’m still learning as a sophomore in college, even though I’ve done sports all through high school, cause it’s a different environment.”

Fatima Morrobel, our team captain who’s a senior and biology major. Morrobel said, “It can be challenging to balance academics and sports. Especially if you have a major that requires a lot of studying like biology and many other responsibilities.”

When asked about balancing her time, personally, academically, and in sports Morrobel said, “At times I have struggled with balance. Between practice, weight room, being at meets for hours, classes, commuting and working, the free time that I get is used for studying and after I’m done with that I just want to relax. But I like this lifestyle. It’s worth it.”

When you’re a student athlete, that is all you are, it defines and shapes your college experience. It’s difficult to find time for other activities when you’re spending a lot of time and dedication on something that needs it all. Your free time isn’t necessarily yours as a student athlete, so one has to learn to use it wisely.


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